Penny Arcade, we need a formal apology…and probably more.

23 09 2013

I had a cold making voiceover work (such that it is) impossible for me, so instead of finishing my 3rd episode last week, it’s sat on the bench; I instead spent my time making maps of make believe places and prepping for the D&D campaign I’m running, which I hosted on Saturday. Anyway, that’s not what I’ve come here to talk about today.

Rock Paper Shotgun has stepped up and drawn a line. They explain (at great length) that they are boycotting PAX going forward, but reserve the right to change their minds, which I assume is contingent upon Mike Krahulik stepping up and unilaterally apologizing for the epic, epic jerk he’s been. There are two articles (making for lengthy reading) both their initial statement, as well as a valuable clarification.

I assume that I’m nobody’s first stop for information, but just incase you missed this massive debacle, here’s a reasonable summary that’s mostly (but not entirely) devoid of interpretation and conjecture.

My feelings on it.

I think my position can be summed up pretty quickly; let’s first start with this quote from some UK Uni’s new student orientation:

“Consent is really too low a bar. Hold out for enthusiasm.”

I don’t know precisely how we got here, but we live in a rapist-apologist culture right now; one where women are held accountable for dressing and acting in ways that cause men to assault, hurt, or offend them. It’s textbook displacement of responsibility and yet it’s somehow okay, everywhere, and utterly ignored by much of our media, our acquaintances, our perceptions.  Something like 25% of all college age women report being raped in their lives; see the wiki article for a laundry list of citations. This shit should have more people enraged: sexual assault is heinous and we need to revise our worldviews such that it’s no longer a laughing matter. Do you see people writing comics lampooning child pr0n? No, because that’s fucking disgusting. We should treat all sexual misconduct in precisely that light: it is abhorrent. Make sure your kids (especially your sons) grow up believing it is anathema to all things good on this earth.

I get that “Gabe” (Mike K.) doesn’t really get it; he’s got the same flimsy excuse most of us have, that it’s built into the power of male privilege and very deeply entrenched in our culture…but, frankly, this shit must not fly anymore. The guy’s being a turd. He’s human like the rest of us; he wants to not suffer, he wants to be happy; we have more in common than what sets us apart.  He’s not evil but he is being grossly irresponsible. He should be looking into this shit, trying to learn why so many people are hurt and upset; whether he likes it or not, he’s a recognizable face in the industry and his actions are helping to sustain a gaming scene that is toxic to anybody that’s not straight and male. He ought to want to learn; ought to want to be better; he ought to not let his anger get the better of him, because – right now – he’s coming off in the worst possible way.

Regarding PAX.

I will be going. Boycotting it can send a certain kind of message; one that I feel carries more weight considering who you are. RPS boycotting sends a powerful message; they have a great deal of influence in the industry, so their not going is going to have shockwaves. They’ve drawn a line, and nobody can mistake it.

I will be attending, because: 1. I don’t have that kind of influence, but more importantly 2. we need people there who want Gabe to shape up. I’m confident that we’ll see more LGBTQ and feminist presentations and panels at PAX going forward, and I want to be at those events: just one more straight white guy trying to help. Equality and a safe atmosphere is what I want for gaming.

I want this so bad, because – right now – I feel like I can’t, in good conscience, share my beloved hobby with my yet-to-be-born daughter(s). Women have a hard enough time feeling safe on their commutes to work; how can I engender in my own daughter(s) love for a scene where she(/they) can’t currently feel safe?

People like Feminist Frequency are (at tremendous cost to themselves) trying to make the gaming scene a better place; safer and friendly and open, that’s what we want. Yet right now their opinions are vehemently and venomously opposed by a cluster of men who fear losing their privilege, who don’t want things to change. Things need to change.

And change starts with us.

So, go to PAX or be vocal about not going; either way, keep the following in mind.

Whether or not you want to, just like Gabe, your actions matter. Don’t let them be passive; that’s what Gabe’s doing and…well, look at this mess.

What can be done?

Honestly, I don’t know; I’m not a member of the affected demographic, just a passionate sympathizer. It’s not a battle I can fight, I don’t think, though I’ll keep flailing in my attempts. A formal apology from the Penny Arcade brass couldn’t hurt. Maybe donating every shred of profit from the next year’s worth of PAX to RAINN would go a long way to making amends. I know that he did kind of apologize, but it was for the wrong things and incomplete. That he revealed his ire for ever pulling the merch speaks volumes to his ignorance on the damage he’s done. He doesn’t get it. Well, he needs to. More specifically, he needs to want to.

Everybody’s watching, man. Whatcha gonna do?




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